He's not run down by Lupus, like he was until last year.
His son hits Little League balls like the next Derek Jeter.
And high up on the list of things to be happy about is this: He's been discovered.
"This is the biggest ever, hands-down the biggest thing I've ever done," Doc said, weeks after Eminem released a new album with a popular single titled "We Made You," based on a beat Doc wrote. "To have him perform something that you created is incredible. Then to see the crowd singing the hook, it was just amazing."
Doc Ish — Sean McHugh is his given name — is a guy pushing 30 who grew up all over the place, but calls Hartford home. His Broad Street recording studio, The Kontrol Room, is where he spends his time since he left his space at the Colt complex a few years back. It's there that Hartford resident Charmagne Tripp sang her hook, the chorus that anchors Eminem's song.
Doc also performs and has a group called The Abnormals. But these days, he doesn't work as a performer as much as he does as a producer for In Ya Head Productions. By now, a couple months after the release of Eminem's album "Relapse," Doc has told the story of his mainstream discovery countless times.
It was last November when he got the call from an artist named Bizarre, who works with Eminem and was using a beat and a chorus that Doc had produced.
Eminem, rapper and protege of Dr. Dre, heard it, and took it.
"They said, 'Yeah, we want the song, get your lawyers ready,'" Doc said. "It was like 24 hours later — done."
Doc's mom, Mary McHugh, remembers the days in seventh grade when she'd pack up his DJ gear in her car and drive him to parties.
Now he's making it mainstream, and his mom loves it. She loves him, she loves his passion and she loves his work ethic.
She doesn't exactly love the genre.
"I mean, I don't hate it," McHugh said. "I wish they wouldn't use the language sometimes."
Mostly, though, she's in awe.
"I really cannot describe the thrill and the happiness I feel for him," she said.
Angel Granado, a Hartford producer also known as Classified, used to have a bunch of recording equipment in his mother's Brookfield Street basement. And, back in the 1990s, a young Doc kept hanging around.
"All this stuff you're doing, I want to do it," Granado remembered Doc saying. "He kind of stuck by me like a sore thumb. I couldn't get rid of him."
"Now, he's got mainstream popularity," Granado said. "That means there's going to be a lot of hard work now, because he's going to have a lot of different people … rushing him every single day. People claiming to be his friends that aren't."
"If he stays passionate," Granado said, "that's a big outlet for him right there."
The success has had a big effect on Tripp, too.
The Bloomfield native and Hartford resident, who wrote and sang the chorus on the track, says she's more of a public radio listener than a Top 40 fan, but her siblings have "We Made You" as their ring tones. Plus, her e-mail is overflowing with songs in need of lyrics from people who want her writing talent.
"Huge, huge changes," Tripp said.
For now, Doc is staying passionate. And busy.
He's in New York. He's in Detroit, where he was going to meet Eminem until his daughter became ill and he returned home. He's getting calls from folks who didn't call before. He even has somebody to take those calls for him.
"Everything has changed," Doc said. "It's hard enough for me to explain to my kids, my girl, my mother, let alone other people."
"I'm being pulled all over the place right now," Doc said.
And here's the thing: This might only happen once. There's no time to celebrate. It's time to capitalize.
"I cracked open a door," Doc said. "And everybody's been leaning and I'm just trying to open it up and meet the demand of all the people that have been trying to get to me."
"The pressure is on," he said. "I feel it. And everything is in the HOV lane right now. Everything is moving real fast."
When asked to play the recording that he sold to Eminem,Doc said he couldn't. It wasn't his anymore. But listen to the song and you can hear the hook sung by Tripp and the rest of what Doc did.
Dr. Dre, who produces most of Eminem's work, added horns.
"I had a guitar riff in there that was hot that I liked, but I guess they took it out," Doc said.
That's OK. It was Dr. Dre, he said. He's a legend. Besides, Doc got paid for the work.
"Good money," Doc said.
How good is good?
"It was an honor to work with Eminem."
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
To view other stories on this topic, search the Hartford Courant Archives at